A local man who put a kitchen knife to the neck of a betting shop manager during a robbery, was last week jailed for five years at Dundalk Circuit Court.
Last month a jury convicted Keith Hughes of Oakland Park, Dundalk of robbing €235 from Bar One Racing, Bridge Street, Dundalk on May 22nd last year and of possessing a knife “outdoors and at Bar One Racing” on the same date.
The sentencing hearing last Thursday heard that the defendant – who wore a hoodie pulled up over his head, had gone into an area behind the counter in the bookies, shortly after 10am.
He shouted demanding money and put a kitchen knife up to the neck of the shop manager,and grabbed cash that was under a computer keyboard, before he ran from the premises.
He was identified from CCTV footage - as his full face was visible on one camera and was arrested that afternoon.
Keith Hughes had 59 previous convictions over a 10 year period from 2005 including three for robbery, one for attempted robbery and 29 burglaries.
The shop manager – in a victim impact statement read to the court, said that the robbery definitely influenced his decision to subsequently leave the job, which he said he didn’t feel safe in.
The Defence barrister said his client does NOT accept the verdict of the jury.
He said Keith Hughes left school at 12 and more or less had continuously been in custody since 2005. He said the accused was nine when he lost one of his sister's in a collision.
The barrister added that the one ray of light for his client was that he was a very talented footballer who’d played in the League of Ireland for St. Francis in Dublin and locally for Redeemer Football Club. The court heard the accused had been scouted by other clubs at the age of 16 while in Oberstown detention centre, but he absconded and the barrister said that was the end of his football career prospects.
Judge Leonie Reynolds imposed a six year sentence, but said she’d give Keith Hughes some light at the end of the tunnel by suspending the final 12 months on him entering a bond to be of good behaviour during his period of incarceration and for two years post release. He must also remain under supervision of the Probation Service and comply with their directions and not come to adverse garda attention during that period.
The judge said the defendant was entitled to credit for the time spent in custody since his arrest on the date of the robbery.